Turkey: A Cloud of Ego

How I dated an Istanbul local in Turkey

Janya looms over her friend Ecrin with eager eyes. Her movements feel uncoordinated this late at night, but in the comfort of the other bus passengers, she takes solace. A dreary day spent sorting through her mother’s affairs makes her sad. She doesn’t even want to think about it:

Her mom will die soon.

In the back of her mind, the dusty boxes of books, papers, love letters, and magazines with so many notes and incisions she could just as well call it a collage — it makes her wonder how she will live without her biggest and only role model. So she looks out of the foggy window in the crowded bus, then back every odd moment to acknowledge her closest friend, Ecrin, standing next to her — what she does have left.

She wears a light, flannel beige coat with a jagged collar. On her lower cheekbone a few pieces of glitter twinkle. Her eyelashes extend over a centimetre in length, curving around the sides. She feigns an awkward smile to the passenger next to her in round glasses and a leather raincoat. Immediately, upon seeing Janya looking at him, the man clenches, instinctively looking away and hunching over. Is that guy looking at me?, she wonders. She shudders monetarily, looking back to her friend, Ecrin, a smile slyly forming around her dark, curved lips. Ecrin has seen this happen so many times, she only knows to laugh it off now. But a part of Ecrin also craves that same attention the passengers always seem to award Janya. What did Janya have that Ecrin didn’t?

The crowded bus has a certain ring to it. Like the inconspicuous hum of an orchestra warming up, the ring seems to alternate between the unnatural ring in her ears and the muffled hum of the idling vehicle. A long day in smoky bars with loud, live music assures a form of tinnitus for the women. Forgetting the present has no better place than the 21st century; a partner just a swipe away, social events every night, and a never-ending onslaught of media rife for consumption at every moment. In just a matter of hours, she can find herself holding hands with a new partner, dining in an expensive, outdoor restaurant, drinking wines to the tune of Ed Sheeran, or even conquering an Escape Room with random people from networking websites like Meetup.com.

Crowded Bus in Istanbul
Crowded Bus in Istanbul

Outside, the tinted windows, the outline of a river goes by, the bus swerving in a circle into a dedicated highway, the “metrobus”.

The bars of Karokay (Karokai) offer the girls a form of escape, and they know it. But more than ever, they revel in their own tight-knit community they have built over the last eight years. That they revel and rebel doesn’t bother them one bit, because without the escape of alchol, drugs, and short-lived friendships, life feels bland.

Janya musters the courage to grab Ecrin by the arms and lightly chastises her for almost falling over. Her bent, slouched figure makes Janya even more conscious of how she appears to the crowd. She can’t even figure out why all these random passengers even care about her friend’s predicament. Better they care than not, she reasons in her head. Earlier in the day, Janya and Ecrin let their emotions get the best of them, consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Now they pay the price.

Janya lives in southwest Istanbul, looking after her senile father. Every morning she gets up to walk the cat, to feed the other strays, and to contemplate her career advancement. She seems to just repeat her day every day. Every time she does, she wonders the same overreaching questions:

How long does my dad have left?

How will my dad survive without a caretaker if I need to leave?

Janya has to ask herself the same question, yet again: why did she even go out in the first place? Did she want to spend the night at a drooling Turkish man’s home, debating her compliance with every move as the man slowly pulled her away? A wave of disgust falls over her. Maybe she feels a need to escape, to find some reason to rebel from the monotonous lifestyle that in imprisons her. Either way, she reasons haphazardly, she has made the right decision by coming home without a meaningless companion for rebellion. In fact, she would do just fine without a “plus-one”. Janya knows it might help her for a fleeting moment to let her emotions take over for a night, but every time she goes out, she feels an increasing amount of guilt. Could age really make her feel more regret for just having a good time?

Involuntarily, she curls her lips. Something stresses her: maybe that guy in the tight coat standing next to the woman. How many other women has he dated? The man wears a red and black-checkered sweater, standing next to a slim woman with long, dark, and curly hair. He looks away from the other woman, standing against the doors of the bus as its transmission rumbles. She looks down at her designer boots. She looks really tired, and yet they look a bit confused. What could have happened? Janya doesn’t want to overthink things, so she looks to her friend. She laughs a bit when she finds her friend doing the exact same, looking down at her shoes.

“Hey –“, Janya bumps Ecrin lightly. Ecrin looks up with her pale face, innocent just as much as in elementary. “Don’t fall asleep! We need to get home!”, Janya lightly raises her voice in the second half, realizing she can only really make a joke of it. She feigns a smile, then looks over to the other surrounding passengers. The man and the woman still stand there, this time the man looking intently at the woman. The woman doesn’t seem to reciprocate, however. Too bad, she muses. He looks nice.

I want to share a secret with you. You may be surprised.

Travelling sucks away at you.

Not just if you’re an introvert. It’s more than that. When you travel, you’re a bystander, an observant from the outside. You watch, listen, maybe even learn. But very rarely do you participate. Most of the time, you watch patiently, absorbing the various cultures and lifestyles. You never find yourself on the inside, an active participant in the rituals. Even when you are a part of a group of locals, you still see yourself as an outsider. It’s natural to think that way; it’s imposter syndrome.

At first, it seems trivial: why would you pretend to be someone you’re not? As a foreigner, you might tell yourself you don’t belong in the group, thereby isolating yourself. It makes sense because you didn’t grow up in the foreign culture. But if you look deeper, you can find a physiological pattern of imposter syndrome. Spend enough time isolated from communities, and the illusion becomes real. You start to see yourself as an outsider — even to your own identity.

Some symptoms might manifest immediately; others will manifest themselves slowly:

  • Delusions of self-grandeur
  • Social aversion introversion
  • Anxiety, OCD, desire to plan everything to the tee
  • Over-zealousness, rambunctiousness

It only takes a matter of weeks to find yourself craving some form of stability, looking to fit in some way, shape, or form. Belonging figures prominently in Maslow’s Hierarchy. It therefore comes as no surprise that so many travellers turn to “hook-up” dating apps like Tinder when travelling to satisfy this need for belonging.

But building up a relationship only to have it burned down, especially when started from a place of need, never served anyone good. It nibbles away at you from within, teaching you subliminally that you don’t have what it takes to grow with someone else. You come in seeking validation and belonging. You see the better parts of you complemented, a better version of yourself emerging only to have that image of yourself shattered.

So sitting in the back of a Turkish diner, muffling my coughing from the second-hand smoke wafting in from the outside, I know I’ve had enough. There’s really no point in going out to meet other tourists and explore when I can only ever know them for a short second. I don’t even want to be travelling anymore, and that I will probably abandon my plans to retreat into the shell I so badly wanted to escape months ago angers me. I had always thought of myself as a persistent person, that I could endure any emotional hardship, but some part of me silently concedes defeat. Like my adventures in the mountains, I see myself about to ask for the costly emergency evacuation. I had never backed down until now, but I need to know my limits. I lightly place the glass mug on the counter in a moment of reflection.

I realize that though I have spent a large portion of my time travelling alone, I haven’t taken much time to simply sit and reflect. Instead, I have opted to plan incessantly, taking every precaution to keep myself busy while purposely ignoring the elephant in the room: myselfWhen did I last take a moment to meditate? I wonder. When did I last take a moment to reflect on myself? In an exercise of assumed futility, I close my eyes to let the sounds of the loose foot traffic and chattering smokers outside the restaurant take over in my mind. I don’t understand a word they say, but it comforts me. I know that I don’t want to continue this charade of self-entertainment, of putting myself in a new country to “play” with only to realize I want more. But that doesn’t need to matter in this moment; instead, I brush that aside while I try to make sense of the fast-paced rhythms of the storytellers outside. Something in their tonality hastens the pacing of their words. Not unlike my own desire to retreat into the shell I so badly wanted to leave. I listen intently, trying my hardest to isolate the accusatory strings of presumed curse words from the clatter of the dishes coming from behind me. Suddenly I start to feel my hands around the glass. I begin drawing my energy outward to my environment, and I feel grounded. Reflexively, I look up when the wrinkly waiter with a hallowed-out diamond-shaped attachment to her necklace wakes me.

“Finish…?” the wrinkly face asks shyly, as if she had uttered a swear word. She looks down innocently to my empty bowl, gesturing for me to pass along the crumbs of my chickpea and eggplant dish. She must not get a lot of English patrons. I slip back into reality, smiling immediately, nodding for her to take the plates. They must want me to leave, I surmise.

As I put away my phone from on the plastic table, I realize I needn’t hurry at all. No one watches me; no one expects me tonight; I long ago waived my familial obligation, venturing to the other side of the world. I can just as easily twiddle my thumbs like I did in school over a decade ago, yearning for the bell to ring. Except in this case, I find myself disappointed that no bell exists, that no bell will ring to move me to the next place.

Perhaps I don’t always need a destination; maybe, just maybe, I can live in the moment.

Why I set my sights so far on seeing this many places in the world need not figure in my everyday life; and since my everyday life now consists of “living like a local”, I have no obligation to make haste.

Nevertheless, I grab my phone from on top of the dirtied plastic table and discard the remains of my drink in the garbage bin next to the water machine. I may not need to make haste, but that certainly doesn’t mean I need to twiddle my thumbs, I reason. Looking outside, now I look back to the congregating group of strangers spewing obscenities at one another. A balding man in a pea coat and a cigarette in his left hand gestures to his amigo with a squared-off haircut and glasses. He jerks his head from side to side as if to simulate a jarring moment. I approach the group, eyeing the group inconspicuously.

Suddenly, the group recedes into silence. But in that fleeting moment, of the sound dissipating into my newfound, confident strut, I realize something even greater — something far more important.


Some of the best stories to date don’t just have action; rather, they have a mix of character development, internal dilemmas, and then some action. We don’t understand characters by their strengths but by how they deal with challenging situations — by their weaknesses. In the present moment, with no clear direction of where to go or of what to do, my true character shines through. We needn’t plan every aspect of our lives, as nothing would surprise us. Instead, we can let our stories unfold and take pleasure in the mystery.

Furthermore, my story doesn’t have to have action around every corner. I can derive just as much value from a sedentary day at an AirBnB as I do from a day-long excursion in the mountains. After all, who said beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder?

As I pass the congregation of storytellers, I become at ease with my situation and sense a renewed sense of passion. I don’t care where I’ll go, and I find beauty in that. I may not know what lies around the corner, but I take pleasure in the surprise.

Besides, who knows what awaits me today?

I’m here

The WhatsApp message reads. I scan the roundabout sidewalk, pausing to compose myself. She stands, a glint of excitement in her eyes, holding a football-sized silver purse.

As I approach, I feel a sinking feeling, but this one accompanied with an overwhelming sense of pride. How have I managed to get a Turkish Latin dancer on a date? Have I really improved my charm that much? I want to deny myself the satisfaction, but I can’t deny the proof in front of me: standing about 175 centimetres tall, a puffy, contoured, metal-coloured jacket and tight spandex pants outlines her thin figure. She can easily be a model. Her black, wavy hair reaches down past her shoulders. It wasn’t even my idea to go out. She got my number. She got me to come out. Never in the past 28 years had I thought this possible. But in this moment, I have to concede to myself that maybe — just maybe — I have achieved what I set out for.

Her eyes meet mine, as I slide into her view, and her face lights up.

“Heyyy,” I smile, kissing her on the cheeks, a move I saw the local couples doing. “You found me!” I cheer. We look at each other for a moment, then I take initiative. I lean away from her and gesture towards the dense, crowded streets. “So… shall we?” I state waiting for her.

“Actually,” she comments looking ahead. “Are you ok with walking a bit? I thought we might go for a bit of a walk.” I comply wholeheartedly, having only recently realized the privilege of a date with a latin dancer.

We spend the next twenty minutes walking and bantering.

We settle on a dimly-lit vintage bar cornering two busy intersections. The front of the bar remains vacant. It seems too appealing to sit in a more quiet location after so much walking. The round, wooden table stands as high as my “beer belly”, which she has continuously mocked me for. “This place looks so retro!”, I comment, seeking a reaction of some kind. She looks up to me after neatly arranging her coat on the lopsided wooden stool.


We take turns bantering, looking into each other’s eyes and talking about our everyday lives. What we say really doesn’t matter; something else seems to take me by surprise: a feeling of infatuation, of energy, and of exuberance.

Pedestrians casually walk by the lit stores, lining the narrow streets of Kadikoy, Istanbul
Busy Streets of Kadikoy, Istanbul

Time seems to pass at three times the speed. The moments spent alternating between the chair closest to her and the one across from her. It feels like clockwork, so coordinated, as we find menial topics to discuss. I found myself mesmerized, gazing into her eyes as she laughs spontaneously about every half of what I say. At one point, I lose track of the topic, her voice trailing off as she inquisitively looks back at me, cocking her head to the side.

“What?!” she asks, laughing. I playfully push her away a bit, bringing her back towards me with my arm around her. I know what to say, but I didn’t know how she will take it. But I have to be honest; I value honesty. I won’t to lie to her.

“I don’t know…” I trail off. I perform a technique I learned called “mirroring”, matching the other person’s body language. In the wake of silence, giving her a chance to take the stage, I inquisitively cock my head to the side and squint, smiling slightly

“There’s just something about you.” I pause deliberately to analyze her reaction.

Her lips curl slightly as if she might acknowledge by lighting up in nervous, giggly laughter at any time. The silence takes over again. “I just feel a special connection with you.” I admit. I wait again briefly to see how she takes it.

She looks back at me, scanning me, then begins nodding slowly. Her movements seem to slow, as if she considers the validity of my statement.

“Yeah…” she admits in a short breath. Her shoulders shrug, then sag down.

The night continues, and we don’t even realize the time passing. She leaves to go to the bathroom, and I surprise myself by simply staring at my phone. I know that I can take to social media to show my friends my “cool new Turkish friend”, but something in me doesn’t want that.

“When will I see you next?” I ask needily. I don’t care at this point; I simply want an answer. Why have I continued to develop a relationship with someone when I have to leave the next day?

“You can come visit me in Australia,” she murmurs, raising her voice slightly in attempts to put me at ease. I look her straight back in the eyes and push back.

“Really?” I look away, retreating to face away from her. She gawks back at me, now apparently craving more of the intimacy I provided her earlier.

“What??” she edges her stool forwards. “Why? You don’t believe me??” she carries on in a more harsh tone. Perhaps she feels offended that I don’t believe her. I turn back to face her again.

“I don’t know,” I mildly placate. “I’ve met a lot of people who say this, but I never hear back from them later, or they simply don’t follow through…” I trail off, thinking almost simultaneously as I explain my hesitancy. She remains quiet, downshifting her gaze to the table with our phones on it. I fill the silence again, subconsciously seeking her approval now. “Besides, who’s to say you won’t meet another charming Canadian there?” I continue.

Ouch. Immediately, I come to realize I have lost my charm. That I admit that she can find another person just like me belittles me. She furrows her eye brows, looking up for a brief second to contemplate how to respond. A tough one for her, indeed. She decides to go with it.

“I can…” she trails off, thinking hard about what to say next. She distances her body from mine, looking away from me. “But we can still meet…” she pauses again, innocently. “As friends”.



A gut-wrenching feeling tears through me, sinking into my chest. I know I did this to myself, that makes me even more angry. I could have prevented this, but I now have to come to terms with the idea of less.

But I have to try to salvage what I do have. Even if I lost.

“Really?”, I lean back, mirroring her again. I trail off momentarily, making an effort to get a grip on my barrings again. “I don’t know — I always just felt a certain connection between us”, I begin again, remembering “

I fill the gap again, this time consciously seeking to put the interaction back on track.

“I’m going to miss you”, I chime in reluctantly. I feel bad opening up, but I know I will miss her later. That I have to cut my trip short irks me.

The rest of the night seems to slow with the insight. Loss aversion makes loss a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel suffocated by the idea that my new Turkish friend doesn’t see me as a partner. We walk back to the metrobus together, her leaning on my shoulder for periodic support in a tired stupor. I don’t take anything of this interaction now that I have made up my mind that she made up hers. That the interaction has no further place to go demotivates me; why cry over spilt milk?

We soon find ourselves on the bus, not saying a word. Despite this, I watch her round face, contemplating just what I lost. She yawns periodically, stretching her legs to keep herself awake. I comment that she looks exhausted, but that I’ll help her get home (as a friend). She looks up to me, and we exchange eye contact for one of the last times. The bus arrives, and I escort her out of the station to the now empty streets. She seems to dart ahead of me, and I know she wants to go because I have successfully made this interaction awkward. I don’t care, though, and I catch up, ensuring to take the frame one last time. I say one last goodbye, explaining that I have to go the other way even though I don’t.

“I’m going to miss you”, I repeat again, now the second time. She doesn’t seem to care, giving me a long hug. I take in the moment as it comes, not expecting anything. I feel a weight lift off my shoulders — of expectations, of “dos” and “don’ts”. As I retract my arms, I watch her as she walks off into the mist of the dimly-lit, littered streets of Istanbul. I pause once she disappears, contemplating just what I have done to myself.


As I watch her leave, my loss aversion reaches its apex; I feel like a dog awaiting my punishment. The street around me, now barren of people which so eagerly frequented it moments ago confirms my loss, flaunting its emptiness at me: piles of litter now line the streets of what used to host a vibrant, open market.

Littered, Deserted Street in Istanbul

I lift up the light glass as a helpless feeling of longing comes over me. At first, I don’t feel much, but then it sets in. I know exactly why I feel this way, still only days after the “date”.

But another part troubles me more: why do I see the interaction as a failure when we couldn’t ever realistically meet again? What about the interaction made me feel so attached to this person? Pheromones?

I know I can start by uncovering the humanity in other people, then having some empathy. I almost bragged to my friends about my new interaction, and my ego took over, carrying the interaction. Only when I retreated to my real self that craved validation from others did the other person lose interest. In the masculine conquest for love, our egos, once again, easily take hold of us, urging us to brag to our friends about our new “Turkish girlfriends”. But objectifying anyone doesn’t develop empathy; rather, objectifying others removes empathy.

As men, we like to label things, to classify interactions, and to break down emotions. But people are not that simple; emotions are not simple. We like to think that “one thing” soiled our interactions, but really, we only have ourselves to blame because of how we subsequently act with the knowledge that we may have screwed up. Coming off as needy doesn’t have to make the other person dislike you as a potential mate; rather, it can develop rapport if the other person also feels in need. Everyone reacts differently, including the girl standing across from me on the bus in a yellow, flannel and collared shirt with a friend drooped over at her knees. Instead, as emotionally intelligent beings, we can grow even stronger relationships by uncovering black swans, a term Chris Voss uncovers in his book Never Split The Difference. Instead of splitting the difference, thinking of life and relationships as transactional, we can seek to understand other people’s situations and little details we may not have immediately understood at the onset of our relationships.

I can’t help but think back to a song I grew up by Jann Arden, Insensitive:

Oh, I really should have known
By the time you drove me home
By the vagueness in your eyes, your casual goodbyes
By the chill in your embrace
The expression on your face, told me
Maybe, you might have some advice to give
On how to be insensitive, insensitive, ooh, insensitive

Jann Arden

Clouded by ego, we see what we want to see. In a world where Netflix and a never-ending stream of media awaits us on YouTube, we can easily find ourselves learning a new skill or signing up for a new course online (Udemy, Khan Academy, Harvard, MIT, the list goes on). In such a world, though highly empowering in our professional and work lives, we have conditioned ourselves into thinking a solution exists for everything — including to ourselves. YouTube videos of “how to deal with loud roommates”, “what to say to get her to like you”, or “ten tips to grow your masculinity” only uncover a sad part of humanity: we like quick fixes, shortcuts. We want the fastest, easiest most effective way of getting things done — not slow, gradual progress. Think of fatty foods, all of these “top ten” list videos, or even the blatant misogyny of pornography, how it dulls our perception to the real thing. Despite their negative connotations and knowledge that these things hamper the human condition, their use figures rampantly in modern society.

Tourist snaps picture in crowded Istanbul market
Crowded Market in Istanbul

What we really want is to be enhanced as quickly as possible. Ego enhancement. In our day-to-day lives, we seek to validate ourselves, to validate our decisions, in any way possible. Ever found yourself looking at your Facebook or Instagram feed longer than you should, gratifying yourself in the numbers of likes and followers? Maybe that new set of shoes we bought gives us that “new” edge at work; maybe you find yourself happy for just a few hours after that new haircut. We tell ourselves a narrative about the chronology of our material successes, a fairy tale we almost certainly picked up from social conditioning and from the media — from the endless timelines of social media.

It never lasts, and we soon find ourselves craving that next fix to “better” ourselves, to objectively find ourselves through others: that job promotion they promised us, or for the person to compliment us to walk through the door. Without a doubt, modern-day consumerism has pedalled these ideals of our identities and how we mold ourselves to fit in with society. Just like Golem from Lord of the Rings, an innate desire to have “precious” things arises from us when we place ourselves in a grocery store or checking a travel website with headlines urging us to “sneak away”, as if we could somehow do what no one else could do. Instead of thinking about ourselves, we cast our gaze on those around us for hints and clues on how to behave, looking to materialism to dull the pain of our indecision. When faced with the complexities of changing ourselves, we instinctively look the other way, seeking alternative, immediate tactics to put a bandage on the task. Only when we take off the bandage to reveal the gaping hole in our identities do we dilate our perception and try to see through the cloud of ego we have stirred up inside.

In reality, a magic pill doesn’t exist for fixing ourselves. We need to do that.

The world only falls into place as we know it — not in some objectively true form, defined by those around us. In this kind of subjectivity, labelling things or defining “clear paths” to form our identities only drives us backwards, giving us false aspirations for an unobtainable goal. We needn’t conform to societal norms; we needn’t do anything. Instead, we may form our own values through the societal values projected onto us (social conditioning).

The people in our lives we love we love because they complete us, or they help us put our worst parts aside while bringing out the best in us. We feel like better people when we surround ourselves with people we know — that bring out parts of ourselves. Instead of shaping ourselves to mold into the opinions of other people, we can truly discover our identities by letting others’ opinions mold to us.

Not one thing can cause relationships to sever; rather, our own perceptions of how others will take our interactions changes our own behaviours. When we have our daily interactions, we don’t need to spend time debating what we say and how we say it; rather, if we allow ourselves to strengthen our realities on how others should react, then the reactions we seek will come as a result.

What if we already have everything we need to feel happy? What if we throw away all the fancy real estate titles , the next-generation smart phones with 5G connectivity, the fancy cars that serve only to show off our prestige and to take shortcuts? What if we forget about career, reproduction, and finding a soul mate? Would we feel happy?

Why not?

Maybe I didn’t need to fix anything about myself in the first place.

I realize that my journey has taken me full-circle, from trying to reform myself into a “new” person through travelling to coming to terms with my own identity — the one with which I started. I think back to all the times, even before travelling the world, when I prevented myself from answering questions in class because classmates told me I didn’t have the expertise; the times I refused to take the solo because I perceived myself as having less value; to all the times I didn’t compliment someone because I thought they already knew the positives about themselves. In fact, seeking inauthentic interactions leaves me unsatisfied. Living up to other people’s standards can give me a temporary fix of confidence, but it does not provide a real sense of value or of self esteem. Real confidence comes from within: from values, from integrity, from identity. Through superficial value systems, I assumed long-term relationships as the pinnacle of achievement, but so much more lies on the periphery of the societal values I so shamelessly adopted. All my self work may have been in vain, but that only empowers me. Because really, who I was — who I was meant to be — there was nothing wrong with that. And that’s beautiful. Authenticity — having one’s own sense of values — makes us who we are. I think back to a quote I read in a self-help book:

The self is always coming through

It doesn’t matter how much we try to put a bandage on our problems; if we don’t deal with our problems entirely, they will only come back to us later. Instead, we can take pride in our identities, not seeing ourselves through others or seeing ourselves the way we want to see ourselves, but rather, by understanding ourselves through our own perceptions — the subjectivity of life itself.

As I lift my hand off the teal mattress in the confined room to adjust the blinds, I realize that I needn’t stress about my last romantic encounter in Turkey. I know I will, but I don’t have to. Some part of me regrets making a last-ditch effort to pursue any form of stability, but the better part of me dismisses any need for self-hate. Whether I like it or not, the excess levels of oxytocin and other chemical reactions that occurred the previous night will leave me wanting more, but the desire for more comprises a basic human need: love. And to love, we need emotional intelligence (how can you love someone else without first loving yourself?). Getting in touch with my emotions has never had a better time than the present. I assure myself that I will come to appreciate the challenges that allowed me to grow emotionally.

Switching gears to the material, I reflect on all my past destinations. A feeling of passion, of pride, and of happiness rises up from within me. I look around in the cramped room and tally up my physical achievements:

  • Nothing lost
  • Gifts and souvenirs in my small bags
  • Enough food to last me two days

All of us, every day, invest in our futures. We plan, we think, and we execute (some more than others and some far to much). As self-proclaimed “rational” beings, we like to think we can understand life, whether through science (law of Entropy, Theory of Gravity), but these semblances to A Priori knowledge only give us false assurances to the nature of our perceived world. As a result, it becomes easy to spend time calculating to no avail the outcomes and ramifications of our actions — to a point where our action becomes inaction. Worse, yet, we involuntarily surround ourselves with those who affirm our beliefs of the world, clouding our vision in our own ego and belief systems. Travel can get us away from adopting a headstrong mindset, but we need to open ourselves first to other possibilities.

Belief is irrational

If we simply strut in to these situations, putting our belief systems at risk, daring to extend ourselves to hear others’ stories, it serves us better. Not everything needs to make sense in our belief system. Having things that don’t make sense — unknowns — makes life interesting; having no destination in mind planned for the day gives us an opportunity to explore somewhere new, to revel in the present. Not everything needs to have a rhyme or a reason; rather, some things we can just take as they present themselves.

I subsequently look at the date on my phone as I write this, noting I began my travels over two months ago. Two months, two thirds of the way across the world, and nothing lost. I commend myself for my vigilance and prevent my mind from its newfound bad habit of calculating and coordinating the next day’s arrival to the airport. Instead, I think back to my session of self-reflection and turn off my screen, only for a brief moment before completing this very paragraph.

Time to live in the moment.